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Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees for vacant Supreme Court seat

Thursday, 03 21, 2013

Jamie Neal
Public Information Specialist
502-573-2350, x 50033
jamieneal@kycourts.net
http://courts.ky.gov

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat in the 6th Supreme Court District. The district is composed of 21 counties in the Northern Kentucky area. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Justice Wil Schroder effective Jan. 17, 2013.

The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Joseph E. Conley Jr. of Villa Hills, Michelle M. Keller of Fort Mitchell and Allison Emerson Jones of Prospect.

Conley is a partner with the law firm of Raines, Buechel, Conley & Dusing in Florence, of which he is a founder. He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Keller is a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge. She previously served as a nurse and is an adjunct professor at the Xavier University School of Nursing. She received her juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Jones is an administrative law judge for the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims. She received her juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

The counties in the 6th Supreme Court District are Bath, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Fleming, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Henry, Kenton, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble.   

Justice Schroder
Click for information on Justice Wil Schroder.

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.

Judicial Nominating Process
When a judicial vacancy occurs, the executive secretary of the Judicial Nominating Commission publishes a notice of vacancy in the judicial circuit or the judicial district affected. Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. The names of the applicants are not released. Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the Office of the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Minton then meets with the Judicial Nominating Commission to choose three nominees. Because the Kentucky Constitution requires that three names be submitted to the governor, in some cases the commission submits an attorney’s name even though the attorney did not apply. A letter naming the three nominees is sent to Gov. Steve Beshear for review. The governor has 60 days to appoint a replacement, and his office makes the announcement.

Makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission
The Judicial Nominating Commission is established in the Kentucky Constitution. Ky. Const. § 118; SCR 6.000, et seq. The commission has seven members. The membership is comprised of the chief justice of Kentucky (who also serves as chair), two lawyers elected by all the lawyers in their circuit/district and four Kentucky citizens who are appointed by the governor. The four citizens appointed by the governor must equally represent the two major political parties, so two must be Democrats and two must be Republicans. It is the responsibility of the commission to submit a list of three names to the governor and the governor must appoint a judge from this list of three.

Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.

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